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Cycle tourism: Italy leads the new trend

With Unsupported Bicycle Adventure a new way of cycling is rapidly growing in Italy. Passion, freedom, autonomy, to enjoy the most amazing itinerary on a bike

Sauro Scagliarini

Cycle tourism: Italy leads the new trend

Saturday, April 23rd will start three different events of the same kind: in the cyclists’ slang they are the U.B.A., which stands for Unsupported Bicycle Adventure, events strictly non-competitive, but still challenging enough for cyclists at least evolved and with a good dose of adaptability .

You will hear a lot in the coming years about these events, because the beautiful Italian cycling path and cycling routes will be enhanced by rather long routes (more than 100 km), that you will be able to travel thanks to the support of GPS traces provided by the organizers. To make the route more accessible and to enjoy the pristine beauty of the places, there are no time limits. There are no checkpoints, refreshments’ points, recovery of the vehicles: a total autonomy. You can also ride at night to appreciate the light of the stars and sleep when you want, but also have a picnic when you find a landscape that takes your breath away or stay in a cozy ‘trattoria’. This is the spirit of the Italian organizers, who have been inspired by events of this kind in the USA, even if they are much more extreme, because more competitive and with a bit of celebrity.

The Italian spirit combined the passion and the pleasure of free riding discovering existing routes (some very well-known) that, made suitable for bicycles, allow to travel through a more fascinating Italy thanks to real “journeys”, with a hint of adventure.


The first event starting Saturday, April 23rd is the second edition of “MyLand” (www.myland bike festival.it), stands for Marmilla Your Land, which offer a real sense of adventure taking place in a wild and unknown to tourism area of central Sardinia, midway between Cagliari and Oristano. Probably this event is one of the most evolved to the needs of the cyclist-tourist because you can travel it all year on three different loop routes (120, 200, 400 km), all starting and finishing in the same place, near the village of Lunamatrona, with free Gps traces.

The second event is the “Campania Crossing” (www.campaniacrossing.it), at its first edition, unique itinerary of 590 km and 7,800 meters of difference in height which touches, always on picturesque nature trails and back roads, all the provinces of the Campania region: starting from Mignano Montelungo (Caserta), on the border with Lazio, you get to the sea in Policastro Bussentino (Salerno), on the border with Basilicata. Both points are well served by the railway and cyclists can get there and go back by train.

The third event, at its the first edition too, is “Italy Divide” (www.italydivide.it), which takes its name from the most famous American event.
The route starts in Rome and it climbs north through the Via Francigena. You enter in Tuscany and you travel along a good stretch of the “Tuscany Trail” up to Florence, through the hills of Siena and the now legendary Eroica’s dirt roads. You arrive in Bologna through the Gods’ Way and you continue in the countryside runs up to the Lake Garda. Finally, you climb Mount Baldo and you get to Torbole, where the route ends. In total it’s a 880 km long route, with 15,000 meters of elevation gain.


It is easy to say that it’s going to be the eve of a success and the beginning of a new way of traveling by bicycle: there are going to start 30 events this year in Italy like the three that we have mentioned. The credit for this should be recognized to the mother of these events, the “Tuscany Trail”, and the data confirm it: 1st edition in 2014 with 64 participants arrived at the start in Massa by word of mouth; 260 in 2015 and 516 this year, with the closing of entries two months before the start on June 2nd.

Each organizer has the extraordinary merit of offering its territory to fans like him, to share an adventure to be interpreted each one in his own way, trying to create proposals compatible with the territory.

Very interesting is the organizers’ idea of the coast-to-coast starting the next September 24th (http://italycoastocoast.it): a route of 500 km with 11,000 meters of difference in height, that from the tyrrhenian Lazio, through Tuscany and Umbria, will takes right on the Adriatic Sea in San Benedetto del Tronto: all participants who want to enjoy both the territory and the ancient villages, will receive the help of a specialized agency that creates the welcoming along the route, in the farms, in small charming hotels or camps, according to cyclist personal needs.

At all these events will participate many foreigners (over 100 will be at the Tuscany Trail), many amateurs tired of pedaling in competitions where you can not enjoy the territory, and many cycle tourists with the need to ‘get out’ of the artificial cycle paths.
The organizers are not marketing professionals nor tourist agencies’ employees: they compensate inexperience with passion. They should be encouraged and applauded for what they have been able to create in such a short time and we must forgive their imperfections. Let's give them time and we will have a wonderful network of paths accessible all year round.